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Tips from a “LinkedIn” Coach

By Mitch Miles, LinkedIn Coach and Instructor

LinkedIn is a powerful and free marketing tool for every professional, if done right. Often clients will say, “Since I updated my profile with your suggestions, I’m getting tons of views and endorsements.”

It’s not a mystery as to why profile updates lead to views and endorsements.

LinkedIn is different from other social media platforms. Over the past several years, I have coached many individuals on how to maximize LinkedIn. In the process, I’ve narrowed down the four primary ways to get results from LinkedIn and four mistakes people tend to make that diminished effectiveness.

Four ways to get results from LinkedIn

 1. Update often: LinkedIn is a powerful, search engine friendly site. It does a lot of thinking and “linking” for you, but you must update your professional changes, news, and activity. Be active. An idle LinkedIn profile is useless.

2. Connect with others: Find and connect with college friends, classmates, neighbors, and leaders in your industry. Network through LinkedIn with current and former co-workers.

3. Complete Your Profile: Fill out your profile completely and upload articles or products you’ve been a part of developing. Including images of you, the company, and your logo are critical. Create a Slideshare account, create a slide show, and connect it to your LinkedIn profile for an extra boost.

4. Keep It Professional: Honor LinkedIn etiquette. Don’t attempt to connect with people you don’t have at least three degrees of connection to.

Four LinkedIn mistakes to avoid

1.Posting a selfie or no image at all in your profile – Come on, get a stranger to take a picture with your IPhone or invest a $100 bucks in your future and get a professional headshot.

2.Viewing LinkedIn as a tool for a job search only – It’s an amazing research tool that puts you legitimately in contact with customers and clients you might otherwise never meet. Be honest when making connections.

3.Treating LinkedIn like Facebook, Snapchat, or other “social” platform – Unless you are a clown looking for work, don’t act like one on LinkedIn. Treat your profile and connection outreach like the proverbial 60 seconds in the elevator. Be respectful, professional, and honest.

4.Not putting in the time – It does take time to get a top-notch profile in place, but in return you get 24/7 name, company, and brand exposure. You also get the opportunity to be part of an international online conversation about hundreds of topics.

I’m often asked these three questions:

“Do I need to pay for a LinkedIn upgrade?”

No. Recruiters and Human Resource Departments should pay for LinkedIn, and they did to the tune of $188 million in revenue during 2012. I see the company headed in the direction of becoming an even bigger personal and professional branding tool and offering eventual benefits of upgrading to a paid plan but for now, LinkedIn is the best free marketing tool at your disposal.

“What do I do when someone endorses me for a skill?”

Endorsements are quick, usually one-to-two words describing skills, traits, or competency. Accept the endorsement, say “thank you,” and if appropriate return the favor of an endorsement in the future. Don’t feel like you have to return the favor immediately.

Recommendations are much more powerful than endorsements. They provide specific examples or stories of character, work-ethic, and/or experience.  

“Do I need to endorse others?” 

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Giving endorsements and recommendations is important.

Mitch Miles lives in Greensboro and is a trainer and coach.